California Names New Head of State Stem Cell Agency
The California Institute for Regenerative Medicine's oversight board on Friday announced that it has hired Alan Trounson, a renowned stem cell researcher, as the agency's new president, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
In 2004, California voters approved Proposition 71 to issue up to $3 billion in bonds for stem cell research over 10 years. The measure created CIRM to oversee administration of the funds (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 9/15).
Trounson is a leading expert in in vitro fertilization and stem cell research. He is credited with being the first scientist to learn how to freeze surplus embryos for future pregnancy attempts (Engel, Los Angeles Times, 9/15).
He has launched several companies specializing in stem cell research techniques and in vitro fertilization technology (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/15).
Trounson is a founder of the Australian Stem Cell Centre and is the director of the Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories in Melbourne, Australia (Los Angeles Times, 9/15). He will leave his position at Monash for CIRM (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/15).
Trounson will be paid $475,000 annually if CIRM covers his relocation costs, or $490,000 otherwise, according to Robert Klein, chair of the Independent Citizens' Oversight Committee, which administers CIRM (Los Angeles Times, 9/15).
Trounson expects to begin working at least part time at CIRM by December.
Richard Murphy, former president of the Salk Institute in La Jolla, will remain as interim president until then.
Zach Hall resigned as president of CIRM in April.
Trounson said, "California has the opportunity to lead everywhere else in the world" in stem cell research, adding that collaboration among researchers will be a priority (Somers, San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/15). "I can't see any other way that I would like to see my career go" (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/15).
Klein said that Trounson believes California "is the epicenter of stem cell research worldwide, and he wants to lead the effort" (Los Angeles Times, 9/15).
George Daley, co-director of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute and president of the International Society for Stem Cell Research, said Trounson's hiring was a "terrific, inspired choice." He added, "This position is going to be the single most important steward of stem cell research internationally."
John Simpson of the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights, a strong critic of CIRM, also praised the decision to hire Trounson, saying, "I am wonderfully impressed and completely surprised" (Los Angeles Times, 9/15).